Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Level 30 Impressions
Well, I made it. It took a while and there was a lot of grinding, a lot of pain, a lot of tears and plenty of sweat, but I made it. Level 30. So what can be said about this game at level 30 that wasn't said during the level 20 impressions piece? Actually, there's plenty to be said.
Just to get the air clear, these impression pieces were done using a review copy provided by Square Enix. I didn't have to drop a dime for the game (though if I did, it probably would have resulted in an even more negative tone to the impressions given how I would have felt like that was good coin wasted).
Anyway, the plain and simple truth is that opposite of just about every single other MMO out there that I've played, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn actually scales better the higher you go in level as opposed to thinning out in content in the upper echelons of grind territory. I honestly have to admit that I loved this concept. In fact, this is something I wish single-player RPGs adopted: more quest variety, more mount types, mount combat, new guilds to join and new quests to conquer in those guilds. In a way, I'm pretty sure I just described Elder Scrolls III to a lot of gamers, and in a way, that's exactly how A Realm Reborn scales as you grow in level.
Beyond level 20 you'll find that on the main quest line you can join one of three guilds, each with their own directive and branching quests, as well as specialized gear and quest locations. I loved the concept of this because the choices I made with my character and the way he developed really made me appreciate the experience of his growth. I've always wanted that out of an RPG and I touched over this in another impressions piece, highlighting how well the game captures the magic of role-playing and exploring the depth of your character(s) through gameplay and leveling.
While many of the quests are still fetch quests one way or another, we do get to see the variety of those quests breakdown into greater variety. For instance, in one quest a player is required to manually dispatch of supplies by throwing explosives on them; this quest required players to actually go into their inventory and throw the bombs using a targeting reticule while either engaging or dodging the enemy. That's a very rare thing required in an MMO, as most times technical gameplay skill is left at the door, save for the ability to skill-cycle like a fertile tree's leaves changing with the tides of each season.
The game also dabbles in the exotic flavors of unique gameplay mechanics that open up once you join a company and unlock your mount. First off, I'd like to explain that multiple currencies to buy different items from different vendors was a superb idea. The normal money you save up (which is usually used to teleport to different areas the higher in level you get) is reserved for necessities, where-as the guild currency is what you'll be saving up for new armor, weapons and rare items needed to evolve your character or items.
But circling back around to that the “unique gameplay mechanics” – I was surprised to see that your mount is treated like a second character. You don't just ride your mount, you can eventually call it into battle with you, level it up, give it skills, even earn new armor for it. One thing that really sparked my interest was the Magitek Mechs from Final Fantasy VI, it was so awesome seeing them the way they were designed in sprite form, but in 3D. Square even tossed old-school fans a minor bone by referencing Biggs and Wedge (even though it was supposed to be Vicks and Wedge)... nice.
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